Kathmandu, September 10
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi today jointly inaugurated the much-hyped Motihari-Amlekhgunj cross-border petroleum pipeline via a video link, thereby marking the commercial operation of the project.
The 69-km pipeline project, which is also the first-of-its-kind in South Asia, was launched by the executive heads of Nepal and India by pressing a button in their respective offices in Kathmandu and New Delhi.
Addressing a video conference between executive heads of the two countries before the project’s inauguration, Modi said the Motihari-Amlekhgunj pipeline project was completed much before the stipulated time through joint efforts of both the governments. Modi said, “The operation of this petroleum pipeline project will ensure supply of two million metric tonnes of clean petroleum products from India to Nepal at an affordable price.”
Addressing the virtual inauguration of the project, Oli said, “This project is the first-of-its-kind between Nepal and India and the entire South Asian region. I believe this project will not only save cost, minimise time, lessen traffic and reduce air pollution but also open avenues in Nepal for expanding similar oil pipelines across the country.”
He added that the project would also enhance inter-connectivity and interdependence between Nepal and India.
With the support of the Indian government, Indian Oil Corporation had built the pipeline project with an investment of over INR 3.24 billion, in collaboration with Nepal Oil Corporation as part of a memorandum of understanding that Nepal and India had signed in 2014.
Both the state-owned companies are also working to build additional fuel storage facility at Amlekhgunj depot of NOC which will augment storage of petroleum products in Nepal.
The Motihari-Amlekhgunj petroleum pipeline is envisaged to put in place a mechanism for assured, continuous, cost-effective, quality and eco-friendly supply of petroleum products to Nepal. Presently, fuel products are being transported from India to Nepal by tankers/trucks at 13 pick-up points.
The 25-cm diameter pipeline is equipped with the latest tele-supervisory and leak detection system. Signal of any tinkering or damage to the pipeline will be received through the optic fibre
cable along the pipeline at the control centres, including at Amlekhgunj depot. Earlier, IOC had also extended training to more than 25 NOC officials and technicians for operation and maintenance of the pipeline.
Earlier, during Modi’s first official visit to Nepal in August 2014, both Nepal and India had announced the building of a petroleum product pipeline. The ground-breaking of the project was carried jointly by the two prime ministers in April 2018 during Oli’s state visit to India.
The pipeline was completed in double quick time in just 15 months. Though the commercial operation of the pipeline project has begun, NOC has stated that only diesel will be supplied via the pipeline in the initial phase.
A version of this article appears in print on September 11, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.